Ah, summer. The kids are out of school and complaining (once again) that they are BORED AND NEED to use the computer. Rather than entertain this daily refrain, why not send them to an online tech camp?
Online tech camps for kids like the ones Connected Camps run offer a chance to explore an interest in Minecraft, learning to code, game design, architecture, or animation in a social environment. Because the camps are virtual, your child can log in from home, your office, or even your local coffee shop!
Your child will get practice reading, writing, typing, and communicating as they work on creative projects designed to help them level up their tech interests. Camps occur in real-time and are run by our online counselors, who serve as educators and mentors. If you have a daughter who loves to connect with other girls around coding, building, designing, and creating we run a full slate of girls-only camps, too!
You might be a parent new to the idea of online tech camps for kids. If so, here are answers to a few common questions.
Is My Child Ready?
Our camps cluster kids of similar ages together—we run camps for 8-9 year olds, and 10-13 year olds. But age isn’t the only factor to consider. Here’s a list of basic skills we’ve found kids need to participate and have fun:
- Keyboarding: Your child will need some keyboarding skills. Our Minecraft camps use the game’s built-in text chat to communicate with other players and use text commands like /w (whisper) and /spawn (return to start). Our Creative Coding In Scratch camps are less keyboard intensive, but still require basic keyboarding skills.
- Reading: They will need some reading ability to participate in chat, although you can help them if you’re participating online too.
- Basic knowledge of Minecraft: For our Minecraft camps, your child will benefit from spending some time playing Minecraft on their own prior to camp. Knowing how to move around, how to do basic crafting, and how to build simple structures is probably enough. This will give them a foundation to build on as they learn the new social skills that come with multiplayer—learning how to communicate, collaborate, and create with other players.
Our Creative Coding In Scratch camps don’t require any prior experience with the program, just an interest in learning to code!
Who Are Your Counselors?
Our counselors are as enthusiastic about Minecraft as our campers, and come from top university programs in computer science, game development, and design. We run a background check as part of our counselor hiring process and all of them are trained to educate and inspire your child. You can read more about our counselors by clicking here.
What Will My Child Be Doing All Week?
Each of our camps is designed around community, creation, and exploration. During camp sessions your child will talk, build, and play with the other campers and the counselors, sharing projects, ideas, and feedback.
They will have the opportunity to get help if they need it and to share what they know with others. By the end of the week your child will have created a few projects of their own and made a lot of new friends.
What Kinds of Projects Will They Work On?
Each camp is a little bit different. They might invent an adventure map, build a city, create a new minigame, or write a computer program. For example,
Adventure Camp: Each week campers will work in small groups to design their very own Minecraft adventure maps. Campers will need to cooperate to come up with a story and lore, building locations and designing the space to guide players through their adventure.
Architecture in Minecraft: Each week campers will work together to build a colony in a new setting, each with it’s own unique challenges. From the surface of Mars to deep underneath the Earth, designing the city of the future has never been so challenging or fun.
Beginning Coding in Minecraft: Campers will code robots (“Turtles”) to build and repair aspects of the Minecraft world. Beginners can use ComputerCraftEDU’s drag and drop coding interface while more advanced coders can type their code.
Creative Coding In Scratch: Campers will make their very own Scratch projects and learn what it takes to become a bona fide “Scratcher.” They will share and modify each other’s projects and connect with the vibrant community of creative coders.
Engineering With Redstone: From a Minecraft Science Fair to a Roller Coaster and Dungeon Design challenge, campers will use redstone to create new Minecraft machines.
Game Design in Minecraft: Campers will work in small groups to make their very own Minecraft minigames. Each week culminates with a Capture the Flag Course design challenge.
Survival in Minecraft: Campers will work together to create a survival base in a new environment each week. They’ll gather materials and prepare for the ultimate Minecraft quest—taking down the game’s end boss, the ender dragon.
What Kind of Tech Will I Need?
- You’ll need a desktop or laptop computer and a stable internet connection. Please note that phones, tablets, and game consoles will not work.
- You’ll need headphones and a microphone. Using the built-in microphone on your computer will work just fine.
- For our Creative Coding in Scratch camps, a webcam can be really nice.
- You’ll need to download the free Teamspeak 3 client. This software allows for voice chat.
- For our online Minecraft camps you will need to purchase your own Minecraft account for a PC/Mac computer. You can purchase an account here.
- For our online Creative Coding in Scratch Camps, you’ll need to download the free Zoom video client to share video and screens.
Now that you know a little more about how our online camps work and what to expect, let’s look at 5 ways to make the most of summer learning.
5 Ways Online Tech Camp Can Boost Your Child’s Summer Learning
1. Try Something New
If you have a kid that isn’t sure what they are interested in, treat the summer as a time to explore. You can create a full summer of fun that works like a sampler. Take one week of online Survival camp to learn the ropes of Minecraft; a second week of Game Design, and then a third week later in the summer devoted to Creative Coding in Scratch. Your child will spend the summer getting creative in a bunch of different topics. They may even discover a true passion among them!
2. Build on an Existing Interest
Summer is a great time for a child to dig deep into an area of interest. You might have a kid with a nascent interest in learning to code, for example. Send them to three weeks of online tech camp in topics related to coding, like Coding in Minecraft, Coding with Scratch, and Engineering with Redstone. They’ll gain an understanding of the possibilities of coding while building a portfolio of projects they can show off once school starts up again.
3. Practice, Practice, Practice
Getting better at something requires practice. Like a budding basketball player who shoots hoops for an hour every day, kids who want to up their Minecraft game need to practice. Doing so with the help of expert mentors not only makes it more fun, but can amplify the pace of learning. Treat the entire summer as a practice space. Survival Camp has a new theme and biome to explore each week. They’ll never get bored. Just better!
4. Connect to a Community of Tech-passionate Mentors
Recent research in the learning sciences points to the enormously positive role mentors who share an interest can play in the lives of a child. During camp your child will connect with youth tech experts and benefit from their mentorship. Our counselors not only teach our camps and courses, but also moderate our free kid-friendly Minecraft server, which is open 365 days a year. Mentorship that begins during camp can continue throughout the year!
5. Take on a Leadership Role as a Junior Volunteer
During and after summer camp we invite all the campers to join our free Kid Club server. On the Kid Club server they’ll get together with other campers and counselors in a more relaxed, community driven environment. Campers looking to get involved more with the community can become Junior Volunteers by being helpful and friendly. They might show around new players, add new minigames to the server, or even help out with next year’s summer camps.
Curious to Know More?
If you’re looking for some help in deciding which camp might be best for your child, email us. We’d be happy to chat.